“How are the children?” I said to a friend who had just told me she’s single again.
“They’re fine with it. They’re glad we’re not together.”
Really? I seriously doubt that. (No, I didn’t say it.) The faces of her teenage sons told a different story. I could only imagine their heartbreak.Twenty years of marriage down the drain. Another Christian couple couldn’t make it work. I’m never shy about asking what happened.
“I got tired of the arguing,” she said. “I didn’t want our children to grow up thinking this is what marriage is supposed to be like.” She didn’t mention any alarming issues such as physical abuse, addictions, or unfaithfulness.
I’m thinking…how many people does it take to have an argument? Can’t one person who chooses to be self-controlled keep a discussion from escalating?
My husband and I are as opposite as two people can be, meaning we have a different perspective on almost everything. That has led to some spirited discussions, but we’ve managed to work through our difference of opinion. Accepting my role of submission has proven crucial—I express my opinion, but he makes the decision.
We’ve been happily married for fifty-one years—happier some days than others. Two children blessed our home, added their own distinct personalities. Finding a way for four people to live in harmony could be challenging, but we survived.
I can tell you this: feeling disgruntled toward my husband affected my relationship with the children. I was preoccupied, annoyed, and short-tempered. And that’s my problem with the Lord. No matter what my husband says or does, my responsibility is to please the Lord. Good news! Choosing to please him affects the children as well.
A young woman who had set her heart to divorce said friends advised her, “Don’t stay together just for the sake of the children.”
For heaven’s sake, why not? If that’s the only reason for giving everything you’ve got to make the marriage work, it’s reason enough.
Every day families are ripped in half by lies. “Divorce is the only option. Children are flexible…they’ll adjust.”
How it must tear a child’s heart to learn that Daddy and Mommy won’t live together any more. Adult children who had already left home when their parents divorced have told me it was the most heart-wrenching thing they ever experienced, and they never got over it. Children who’ve witnessed or experienced violence in the home may accept the reality of separation. But many children of divorce say, “In a perfect world, my parents would still be together.”
Daily relationship stuff can be difficult and messy. Life drains. People change. The enemy never lets up. He suggests divorce—an easy way out to avoid dealing with a contrary spouse. The reality is—if you have children—you’ll still have to deal with each other. You’ll have some kind of relationship (possibly more complicated than the present) until the children reach adulthood and independence—and thereafter as well.
One verse can transform a troubled marriage, if both husband and wife apply it. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). I’ve seen relationships improve when only one person decided to live out this basic principle of kindness.
Why not try putting that into practice? Consider the children.
Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. This post is adapted from her forthcoming book Help! I’m Stuck and I Can’t Get Out! The Maximum Marriage Maintenance and Repair Kit. She’s a member of Christian Authors Network, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.